Philip Sheldrake

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Tag: VRM

Defining Sovereign Technology, so we can build it, and so we know it when we see it

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Note: the IIW community adopted the qualifying prefix "self-" not too long after this post was first written, ie. self-sovereign technology.


Agency refers not to the intentions people have in doing things but to their capability of doing those things in the first place.

To be able to ‘act otherwise’ means being able to intervene in the world, or to refrain from such intervention, with the effect of influencing a specific process or state of affairs.

(Giddens 1986)

Technology must always be a component of agency as tools change our capacity to ‘act otherwise’. And it’s a component that’s all the more pervading and penetrating as the delineation of the analogue and digital dissolves, as ‘the device’ assumes an exo-brain role and as sensory ‘things’ form our exo-nervous system.

Simultaneously, I have a digital self and a self with digital presence.

Simultaneously, this is me and it is my representative, my agent.

Simultaneously, it is core to my agency and must be subject to it. Read more

A presentation to the Open Mobile Alliance conference on big data

According to its website, the Open Mobile Alliance "was formed in June 2002 by the world’s leading mobile operators, device and network suppliers, information technology companies and content and service providers. OMA delivers open specifications for creating interoperable services that work across all geographical boundaries, on any bearer network."

The OMA met today in Dublin to discuss aspects of big data, and I was invited to present on personal data, social media and social business.

I've met some great people today and we've covered some pretty geeky things between us, but the experience has left me with a renewed appreciation of the differences between 'net' and 'telco' people. For example, this was the first conference I've been to in many years that didn't have an agreed hashtag, or many people tweeting come to that. And mine was the only stack not to claim copyright, rather my normal Creative Common licensing. Trivial examples maybe, but indicative nonetheless of a different (but no less apposite) mindset.

I've tried my best to persuade a standards-setting collective to think harder about when to intervene and about the longer-term ramifications they might have on all the good stuff the Internet, the open Web and related technologies can do and are doing for humanity and our custodianship of the planet. That's not to undermine the value of standards, far from it, but as the saying goes, everything can start to look like a nail when you have a hammer.

I asked them to think about "humans" or "people" rather than "consumers" and "users", and about putting the facility for all humans to realise their full potential ahead of shareholders. That's not counter-capitalist. I put shareholders' best interests first by putting them second. You can find out more about this perspective in my recent ebook, Attenzi - a social business story.